A Mini-look at Painting Related to Colorfield Painting

Frank Stella, Jules Olitski and Morris Louis

have always viewed myself as a third generation Colorfield Painter I, major figures of the school being Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, and many others, some of whom would prefer not to be pigeon-holed in the category. This work blossomed starting in the 1950’s and was viewed as decorative, less serious, inconsequential and focused on material manipulations by the late seventies. It resurges now as a more popularly viewed field with many off-shoots, some veering into serious art and some being mainly decorative. Colorfield Painting generally experimented with defining what spatial boundaries could be explored by painting. and how color aided this search. Others felt that painting had been carried to its full potential and should be dropped as an artform. Different issues like creating surface depth were largely seen as antithetical to its other major focus and not examined.

My dictionary defines the term thus:”Colorfield painting is a style of painting that that features large flat areas of color spread across the entire canvas to suggest that they extend beyond the canvas into infinity.”

It a wonderful definition and true as far as it goes. Frank Stella is the most important artist to examine spatial issues in abstraction and would probably never see himself even remotely in the same field as colorfield painters. I would agree on almost every level and grant exemption based on pure intelligence and focused analytical abilities.

Joan R. Brownstein